FY23 Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program


The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program provides support for master’s and doctoral degrees in oceanography, marine biology, maritime archaeology—these may include but are not limited to ocean and/or coastal: engineering, social science, marine education, marine stewardship, cultural anthropology, and resource management disciplines—and particularly encourages women and members of minority groups to apply.

The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program is dedicated to ensuring that diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the core of every action and every decision. We know that having varied perspectives helps generate better ideas to solve the complex problems of a changing world. To be effective stewards we must ensure our programs reflect the communities in which we live, work, and play. The longevity and success of our system depends on creating a culture that is welcoming and inclusive of all.

Individuals who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, or citizens of U.S. territories, and are applying to or have been accepted to a graduate program at a U.S. accredited institution, may apply. Prospective scholars do not need to be enrolled in a graduate program at the time of application, but must be admitted to a graduate level program in order to be awarded this scholarship. Scholarship selections are based on academic excellence, letters of recommendations, research proposals, relevant experience, and financial need. Applicants must have a cumulative 3.30 grade point average (GPA) to be eligible to apply and maintain a minimum cumulative and term GPA of 3.30 for every term and for the duration of their award.

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarships may provide, subject to appropriations, yearly support of approximately $42,000 per student (a 12-month stipend of $30,000 in addition to an education allowance of $12,000) and up to $10,000 of support for a 4-6 week program collaboration at a NOAA facility. Applicants can only obtain funding for the number of years they have remaining in their graduate studies when they apply for the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program. For example, if you have already completed two (2) years of your PhD studies, and you become a Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship recipient and indicate it will take you two additional years to complete your degree, you will only be able to obtain funds for the remaining two (2) years of your graduate studies. Note that scholars may request a one-time no cost extension for up to one (1) year that must be requested at least 60 days before the end of the award and will need to provide a justification and a current budget.

Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program recipients will be required to participate in a mandatory NOAA Orientation Training to meet with the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries staff at a date and location to be determined in the summer of 2023. If scholarships have not been awarded before this training, recipients may be required to incur pre-award costs that will be reimbursed after award funds have been issued.

As a recipient of the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, you become a recognized member of the NOAA community. NOAA provides significant financial resources to help you pursue your independent graduate degree, as well as the staff expertise to assist you with your research along the way. Therefore, Dr. Nancy Foster Scholars must conduct some specific outreach efforts. To help increase diversity of future applicants, Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program recipients must give at least one (1) presentation about the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program to a diverse audience, such as undergraduate students at a minority serving institution, historically black colleges and universities, student organizations promoting diversity at their campus, or other appropriate venue(s). All Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program recipients are required to develop an outreach product (e.g., video, infographic, lesson plan, or other educational product) within the scholarship time period. The outreach product may be about their research or some other relevant topic. Discussions with the Foster Scholar team can be helpful when determining the product and the topic.

Completion of one (1) program collaboration is required for every doctoral scholarship award, with a second recommended, but not required. Scholars may opt out of a program collaboration if there are unforeseen circumstances that prevent them from completing this requirement. But this discussion must happen with the Program Collaboration Coordinator and the Federal Program Officer before a decision is made. For master’s degree level scholars, completion of a program collaboration is strongly recommended but is not required. The program collaboration is designed to allow scholars to participate in research or other activities for four (4) to six (6) weeks at a field office of the National Marine Sanctuary System, or other NOAA program offices. Federal support for the program collaboration may be used toward allowable costs such as: travel to and from the NOAA facility, housing, per diem, laboratory costs, research vessel support, and consumables while conducting research at the NOAA facility. Funds cannot be used toward research costs. Scholars are required to provide their own health insurance coverage during the program collaboration. More details on allowable costs can be found in 2 CFR part 200, Subpart E – Cost Principles. If scholars choose to participate in a program collaboration during a specific year, they must notify the Program Officer by December of the academic year in which they intend to participate in the collaboration. Approval from the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is required prior to embarking on the program collaboration.

In order to have a competitive application for the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, it is recommended that you review the following bullets to assess whether or not you should apply for this scholarship. For a complete list of review criteria, please see Section V.A.

1) Your research proposal aligns closely with NOAA’s mission, with particular emphasis on meeting the science priorities of the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. This is 30 points of your application score;

2) Your financial need statement documents a strong financial need due to challenges, hardships, or other information through a compelling personal narrative. This is 25 points of your application score;

3) You have exceptional letters of recommendation. This is 10 points of your application score;

4) Historically, proposals that do not support the science or education priorities of NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System do not rank as high;

5) If you are in the last year of your Masters or Ph.D. program, it is not advised to apply for this scholarship.

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